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India’s Church leaders warn against dividing country with new citizenship law

MUMBAI, India – India’s leading cardinal has called the country’s controversial Citizen Amendment Act “a cause of great anxiety for all citizens.”

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), made his comments on Jan. 8 at a ceremony in Benaulim, Goa, inaugurating a new extension of the secretariat of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI).

The CBCI is for all bishops in India – Latin and Eastern Rite – while the CCBI is for the country’s Latin Rite bishops.

The Citizenship Amendment Act was passed on Dec. 12 by India’s parliament, and establishes a mechanism for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to gain Indian citizenship. However, the law only applies to Hindu, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, meaning Muslims are excluded.

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